For me, the cemetery is a quiet and peaceful place. A quick walk or turn of the car wheels through the gate is like entering a different world. I leave the noise and cares behind as I enter the place where time loses meaning, and rest is eternal.

When I was an adolescent, I enjoyed an occasional walk with a close friend through the cemetery near my childhood home. The cemetery was a mystical place. As we strolled along its narrow roads, we read with curiosity the names and dates on the grave markers.

We pondered what the life of each person might have been like so many years ago. Sometimes, of course, we would come across the grave of a baby or young child. This always saddened our hearts as we wondered about the circumstances of their early deaths. We felt sad for their families, and wished them well.

Eventually, the cemetery lost its appeal for me. As an adult, I inwardly groaned as my parents made their annual trek through various cemeteries on Memorial Day to pay their respects to deceased loved ones. I remember thinking, “I hope they don’t expect me to carry on this tradition when they are gone.”

In May of 2001, I suffered the unimaginable loss of my 19-year-old son, whom I adored. Soon, I found myself visiting the cemetery daily—sometimes up to 3 or 4 times on the same day. Some days I would sit quietly on the ground near the grave and reflect on his life. Sometimes I would lie on the ground next to his grave, weeping and talking to him. At other times I would even sing to him, songs I’d lulled him to sleep with when he was a baby.

Always, I prayed. When I felt well enough to return to work after a few weeks, I anxiously awaited the end of each business day so that I could rush back to the cemetery on my way home. Often I brought fresh flowers, ceramic angels, baseball souvenirs, family photos, and other memorabilia.

My grief therapist concluded that I was still trying to take care of him as his mother. I supposed she was right. I wanted the world to see how much I adored my boy and what he meant to our family.

The cemetery was a safe haven for many months following the death of my son. It was a place where I could go whenever I felt sad and lonely, or afraid. I brought all my cares to my son, and I asked him to pray for our family. He was my angel—my helper.

In time, I had to stop visiting the cemetery for awhile because I was having nightly dreams about death and cemeteries, and I just needed some peace.

It has now been years since the death of my son. Although the cemetery has played a crucial role in my ability to process a significant loss in my life, I don’t feel the need to visit as often—perhaps once or twice monthly during the good weather months, and I see this as a sign of healing progress. I realize that I don’t need the cemetery to feel close to my son. His spirit lives on in my heart and soul, and I can talk to him whenever and wherever I desire.

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Anne Dionne

Anne Dionne’s world was turned upside down on May 5, 2001, when her 19-year-old son whom she adored was killed in a car accident. Since that day, Anne’s mission is to choose to live every day to the fullest and to appreciate the gifts each day has to offer. Through Anne’s involvement with The Compassionate Friends, she is a former Coordinator for the Online Support Community. She also was a workshop presenter for an annual conference of The Compassionate Friends. Anne also co-authored the book “Every Step of the Way: How Four Mothers Coped with Child Loss.” Anne resides in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, with her husband, Steve. They have one adult daughter, Kelly, and two adorable grandpugs! Anne is a registered nurse and is employed as an Embedded Care Coordinator for a family practice in her area. Anne continues to share her personal story of loss and hope with various church groups and local communities through writing and public speaking. It is in reaching out to help others that Anne finds healing and recovery through her own grief journey. Anne was a guest on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” talking about “How Four Mothers Cope with Loss.” To hear Anne being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, go to the following link:

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